Swetha Reddy Image Courtesy:
13 Sep, 2018
The man behind the rise of established para-shuttlers in India, Gaurav Khanna, an international umpire and referee, who selflessly dedicates his
life to train para-players, talks about the infrastructure and facilities,
awareness of the para sport in the country in an exclusive interview with
Since when have you been training the para-players?
I last played professional badminton in 1998 in Udaypur Nationals Doubles Event and I was selected on the post of Inspector in RPF. I had to undergo training for more than a year as cadet and commando. I did degree in
Bachelor of Physical Education along with diploma in Yoga and further NIS in badminton.
mother is the religious person and always aspires to do something for the
physically challenged people. Her dedication and zeal to contribute in such trivial social issues
ignited a light in me to help and lend a hand to those in need.
This further led me to embark my journey with training of hearing
impaired players. Today, I have my own non-profit academy, which runs from the
funds by various sources such as Dr Shakuntala Misra National Rehabilitation
How did you manage training different categories in para?
I developed communicating with different players of
various categories which includes learning of sign language, patiently driving them to handle tough shots and manage
height issues and other such important things that are not a major concern with
regular badminton players.
It’s definitely a challenging
task but the sweeping enthusiasm and zeal to learn more with every passing day
helps me keep going.
difficult is it to be a para-player?
Being the coach for the para-players, I say, it is very
difficult. For example, players need to coordinate the wheelchair and their
body movement before reaching towards the shuttlecock direction.
There are many players in my academy who are prone to
polio, has prosthetic legs, and few even has missing organs. Besides this, the
players need to face challenge as the professional player.
are the top players training at your academy?
At the advanced coaching center in 'Guru Gobind Singh Sports College', Lucknow, the World No. 1 Manoj Sarkar and Parul Parmar, National champion World No. 3 Pramod Bhagat, National champions Krishna Sagar and Abu Hubaida, International medallist Raja Maghotra, World Championships silver medallist Tarun Dhillon, Asian medallist and World No. 5 Mark Dharmai, International medallist Nitesh Kumar, Suhas and many other players have been training under me. All the players are currently preparing for the Asian Para-Games 2018. Suhas L. Y., an IAS officer, somehow manages to play besides his busy schedule.
My another student Rohit Bhaker, who was the Deaf Olympic Medal winner and an Arjuna awardee in 2008, is assistant coach with me helping to train Indian para athletes.
Another student Raj Kumar is confirmed with the award from MYAS this year, as he was due with it in 2016, and I'm expecting Manoj Sarkar to be nominated for this year Arjuna Award.
are the facilities and infrastructure for the para-shuttlers in India when
compared with the international standards?
Forget about the international standards. There is no
proper awareness of the para-sports in the country and para-badminton is one
among them. If that is the case, then we can’t expect for good facilities of
infrastructure in the country.